Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Omar decision has come...

I think most of my regular readers were included on the mass email we sent out in regards to the decision. Sorry if this is the first time others of you are hearing this...

It's a "good news, not so good news" kind of situation. The good news is, the judge terminated Omar's parents' rights to him, making him free and available for adoption. The not so good news is, family has first right to adoption, so the state has been ordered by the judge to determine if Omar's biological aunt and uncle want and are able to adopt Omar, before they can make a placement with us.

So, that's it. All this waiting, all this buildup, and we still don't know. Ugh! Talk about frustrating...another delay, more waiting, more uncertainty. But, as people have mentioned, it's better than not terminating and it is a huge step in the right direction. But, it's not a victory, it's not what we were hoping to hear, and we are still waiting, not knowing if we can be Omar's forever family.

Beth and I are in a little state of shock right now. We thought for sure we would know by now, we thought for sure Monday would be the day when we heard the "good, good" kind of news. We thought we would be celebrating and planning Omar's transition into our family. Instead, there is more waiting and further uncertainty.

We did spend Monday in action mode. The judge put in his orders that if the aunt and uncle do not end up as a viable option, Beth and I need to have a cultural integration plan in place to ensure Omar is connected to his cultural heritage.

Well, if you know us at all, you aren't surprised that we had that baby whipped off by the afternoon and, if I do say so myself, it is a damn good plan to boot! Thanks so much to our friend Christy, CEO of ICAN (Improving Chandler Area Neighborhoods), who, after getting Beth's call after the decision was handed down, immediately began researching cultural integration strategies and assisted us with our plan.

In fact, one of our strategies will be to participate in the Strengthening Multi-Ethnic Family Program, offered by ICAN. It is a program to assist parents in raising healthy children in a multi-cultural environment. A 13-week program, it brings together parents from multiple ethnicities to examine cultural values and the impact of those values on their parenting style, their families and the community.

Further, we are thankful to Beth's friend Leticia, who will be serving as our cultural guide into the Hispanic community. Leticia is a business owner of Chicana Mama and CHALE clothing (Chicanas Achieving Latino Equality) and is mother to five-year old Pilar, who we are hoping can be one of Omar's first Phoenix friends!

Experts in cultural integration recommend identifying a cultural guide to support the family and child in recognizing and honoring the child’s heritage. Leticia has formally agreed to serve in this role for our family. She will help us identify opportunities to engage with the Hispanic community, honor cultural traditions and generally learn about what it's like to be Latino in America.

In addition, we will enroll our family in Spanish classes, probably through the City of Chandler Recreation Department. The best part is, we have had about half a dozen friends and family who are fluent in Spanish offer to teach our family Spanish and work with Omar to become bi-lingual. For example, Omar’s aunt and uncle to-be (my brother Jason and his wife Anne) who are bi-lingual, having lived in Spanish speaking countries, have offered to correspond with Omar in Spanish. This is just another example of our community stepping forward to help us out. We are so thankful.

In fact, Anne is already jockeying for her official moniker, as she said in her email today, "It may be nice for Omar to call me “Auntie Annie,” as the translation is the zippy-sounding “tita Anita.” We shall leave the actual title and language in which it will be spoken to the discretion of Omar, but perhaps a little parental nudging towards “tita Anita” would be nice."

So, there is OUR plan. In addition to what we are doing, we have been talking to the state about what they are doing on the aunt and uncle front. It kind of surprised Beth and I that the aunt and uncle even came up as placement option. The aunt and uncle testified during the hearing and it did not seem, from what they said, that they were committed to no contact between Omar and his birth parents, which would be a condition of adoption.

There were other issues that came up on the stand that lead Beth and I to believe the aunt and uncle are not a good placement, but Beth rightly pointed out last night that the trial wasn't about the aunt and uncle's fitness as parents, it was about the parent's fitness as parents. The judge resolved the issue of the parents and now we need to wait to see what the state resolves about the aunt and uncle as a possible placement.

We have talked with several of the state's representatives, all of who say they think we are the best placement for Omar, so we have that on our side. Knowing anything further about what is going on and how long a new decision will take would only be guessing.

What we think, but don't know for sure, is that the state has to interview the aunt and uncle, and based on what they learn in that interview, create a placement recommendation to the judge. It could be a two step process - 1) rule out the aunt and uncle, and then 2)recommend us for placement. Or, it could all take place in one motion to the judge, we just don't know.

And, we don't have any idea how long this will all take. We do know Omar is growing impatient. Marie, the foster mom, was not at all looking forward to answering Omar's questions about if the judge said he could come live with us. I am sure she handled it with grace. She reported to us that, when she did tell him, Omar was a little confused, but overall understood that he wouldn't be going back with his mom and dad, and the judge wanted to see if his aunt and uncle were a good place for him to live before the judge could let Omar live with us.

To that he responded, "But I want to go live with Beth and Aaron!" She told him we were doing everything we could to have him come live with us, and the judge asked us to fill out some paperwork - he replied, "Can't they get their homework done tonight!" So friggin cute!

In fact, he has been asking various random "authority" types when he can come live with Beth and Aaron and Max (poor Mokie and our cats get no love - yet). Marie told us of one such exchange that took place while the family was watching a friend's soccer game. Omar approached an off-duty police officer, still in uniform from her shift, who was there watching her kid play soccer and asked her, "Can you tell the judge I want to go live with Beth and Aaron?" Isn't that the sweetest thing EVER! Talk about making your heart break into a million little pieces...

So, here we are back to waiting, and hoping, and being scared. We are certainly learning lessons in patience. All in all, I have a good feeling. There are literally hundreds of people pouring their positive thoughts and energy into Omar joining our family - I can feel it, and it brings me peace to bring my awareness to each of the faces who are connecting their lives to Omar's. Thank you again to you all...

And, there is no one I would rather be going through all this with then Beth. She is amazing about staying positive and continuing to hold hope. Sure she gets discouraged, but she focuses on what we can do and what we do know, and tries to not get to sad. She gets more frustrated, which puts her in action mode.

Being the bigger feeler, I get sad, and then usually, after a little wallowing, jump on her train and together, thank god together, we move forward and get shit done. Through our quick response and action, we try to demonstrate how bad we want Omar in our lives.

As you might guess, the last several weeks have been quite draining and yesterday was an emotional roller coaster comparing in intensity only to the day of testimony I witnessed. In fact, I stayed home from work today, fighting off migraines and not really wanting to face the world.

I am glad I did stay home. It has been a good day to recover and I even knocked some home work off the list. Right or wrong, of all the things I try to manage in life - marriage, friendships, working out, school, work, volunteer activities, taking care of the house and yard, etc - the two things I let slide while going through these last couple of weeks have been homework and fitness. Today has given me a chance to press the reset button on those two areas and I think I can get refocused.

All that said, we still don't know what is going to happen and not knowing is tough. I wish we did know, I wish we were celebrating and planning, but those aren't the cards we have been dealt. The good news is, we still aren't out of the game, we haven't cashed in our chips, and there are several big hands still to be dealt.

We are hoping the next hand brings aces high - we want our boy!


  1. Do you really want to know? I am pissed, scared and sad. Mad that Omar has to wait and go through all this turmoil and uncertainty. He deserves a loving home and he deserves to know now! Scared that he won't be in our life, it would be the crappiest thing ever. And that makes me sad...

  2. and mad, did I mention it makes me mad...it just doesn't seem fair. In fact, its down right stupid.

    I'll go back to crying now...

  3. no matter what happens, no matter how hard it gets, we will never, ever give up on Omar. Never.

  4. and I just want to tell Omar it will all be okay, but I can't...and that makes me sad...and the waterworks begin again. At least Beth is home now and we can cry together and we can hold each other. I just want to tell Omar we love him and it will all be okay, but I can't...

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. Which is why you sit your butt down and you write him a letter to tell him all this, and on his 18th birthday you can hand it to him to remind him how much you loved him and wanted him to be part of your family; and you can tell him in person how blessed you have been to be able to be his father and watch him grow into a wonderful young man.

    Because this IS going to happen Aaron, and all of this trauma and heartache that you, Beth and Omar are going through will be just a slightly painful memory in the face of the love you will share as a family.

    Now, go cry some more, or be pissed, or whatever you have to do, but hang onto hope, and trust the power of Love in the Universe!

  7. Please take heart. I know it seems dark right now. Go ahead and feel your feelings. Keep hope in your hearts.

    Know that many are with you and praying for a better tomorrow.